To the top

Page Manager: Webmaster
Last update: 9/11/2012 3:13 PM

Tell a friend about this page
Print version

Sympathetic neural activi… - University of Gothenburg, Sweden Till startsida
To content Read more about how we use cookies on

Sympathetic neural activity to the cardiovascular system: Integrator of systemic physiology and interindividual characteristics

Journal article
Authors N. Charkoudian
Gunnar B Wallin
Published in Comprehensive Physiology
Volume 4
Issue 2
Pages 825-850
ISSN 2040-4603
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Pages 825-850
Language en
Keywords adrenergic system, animal, cardiovascular function, human, physiology, Animals, Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena, Humans, Sympathetic Nervous System
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


The sympathetic nervous system is a ubiquitous, integrating controller of myriad physiological functions. In the present article, we review the physiology of sympathetic neural control of cardiovascular function with a focus on integrative mechanisms in humans. Direct measurement of sympathetic neural activity (SNA) in humans can be accomplished using microneurography, most commonly performed in the peroneal (fibular) nerve. In humans, muscle SNA (MSNA) is composed of vasoconstrictor fibers; its best-recognized characteristic is its participation in transient, moment-to-moment control of arterial blood pressure via the arterial baroreflex. This property of MSNA contributes to its typical "bursting" pattern which is strongly linked to the cardiac cycle. Recent evidence suggests that sympathetic neural mechanisms and the baroreflex have important roles in the long term control of blood pressure as well. One of the striking characteristics of MSNA is its large interindividual variability. However, in young, normotensive humans, higher MSNA is not linked to higher blood pressure due to balancing influences of other cardiovascular variables. In men, an inverse relationship between MSNA and cardiac output is a major factor in this balance, whereas in women, beta-adrenergic vasodilation offsets the vasoconstrictor/pressor effects of higher MSNA. As people get older (and in people with hypertension) higher MSNA is more likely to be linked to higher blood pressure. Skin SNA (SSNA) can also be measured in humans, although interpretation of SSNA signals is complicated by multiple types of neurons involved (vasoconstrictor, vasodilator, sudomotor and pilomotor). In addition to blood pressure regulation, the sympathetic nervous system contributes to cardiovascular regulation during numerous other reflexes, including those involved in exercise, thermoregulation, chemoreflex regulation, and responses to mental stress.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

The University of Gothenburg uses cookies to provide you with the best possible user experience. By continuing on this website, you approve of our use of cookies.  What are cookies?